When I did my team predictions before the start of the tournament, I suggested that Afghanistan would win 3 games, but New Zealand was not one of them. I had picked them to beat Sri Lanka, which they nearly did, and also Bangladesh and the West Indies. Could they upset New Zealand? The kiwis are top of the table, unbeaten with 2 wins, alongside Australia, but ahead on net run rate, so surely this is an easy one to predict.
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Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) Afghanistan will fight
While Afghanistan’s destruction by England in the warm-up match was disappointing, their warm-up win against Pakistan and their narrow loss to Sri Lanka were both heart-warming. Afghanistan are remarkably consistent and it’d seem difficult to believe that even New Zealand, in their current form, could stop it.
(2) New Zealand will find it difficult
I put Afghanistan ahead of Bangladesh, and New Zealand found that match difficult, so they are going to find this one even harder. The difference is that Bangladesh have beaten New Zealand before, albeit in a very different scenario, but Afghanistan haven’t, and that should be enough to get the kiwis over the line.
(3) Rashid Khan is going to star
The guy is in great form with both bat and ball and is quickly becoming not just the world’s best bowler but a genuine all-rounder. He might even be pushed up the order for some quick runs.
(4) Mohammad Nabi is going to terrify
He is in some great form too, winding back the clock and firing on all cylinders. It’s going to be scary.
(5) New Zealand will win
It’s not a confident prediction and I think that New Zealand will have more than a few jitters about this match, but they will also know that if they do win then they will go 3-0 and have one foot on a semi-final berth. This is a match they will need to win if they are to qualify for the semis, and it is a match they should win. We are not yet at the stage where they can get complacent and I don’t think they will. New Zealand should win but it will be tight.